Friday, September 3, 2010

God is a metaphor

by Joel Wendland

It's official. God didn't create the universe, says renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. The pronouncement was startling enough to make yesterday's news, apparently.

The hubbub arose after Hawking co-wrote in a Times (UK) piece the following shocking claims:

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.... It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."

What seemed most shocking to reporters is that Hawking's claim seemed to contradict an earlier remark in one of his popular books that efforts by scientists to uncover basic laws of the universe might allow them "to know the mind of God."

Scientists like Hawking, Einstein, and others have long been claimed by the right-wing as supporters of "intelligent design" and other religious myths about the origins of the universe because they made ambiguous claims about a deity's role in the formation of the universe.

Typically, however, the statements scientists like Einstein made about God and the unknown were made in a time when denial of such would prove harmful to their reputations given an overbearing religious climate that demanded they give a nod to God.

It is pretty clear, though, that Einstein, and Hawking, saw God as little more than a metaphor for that which had not yet been explained. But now that Hawking, like many before him, has pronounced the end of God – the unknown forces and events that created through sheer accident a universe out of a single point of existence – what next?

Maybe the brightest minds will have to focus on discovering the "unknown" forces that cause human suffering: capitalism, imperialism, racism.....


Barbara R said...

And remember what happened to Galileo?

When Galileo put out the heliocentric theory (that the earth moves around the sun) in the seventeenth century, he was tried by the Inquisition and found "vehemently suspect of heresy". He had to "abjure, curse and detest" his ideas and findings and was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life.

In recent years the Catholic Church formally revoked its condemnation of Galileo.

warrengreer said...

"...created through sheer accident a universe...." ???
"Accident" regarding the creation of the universe has meaning only if we use it to contrast to "intentional" creation of the universe, which Hawking et al. now tell us was not a factual point of view. So, if no "intent", no "accident".
We now hold the field in the battle for the view of reality, but old habits of characterization die slowly. Let's help them along! The universe was not "created" through an "accident"! It developed from whatever it was before into what it is now becoming by virtue of its lawful existence.
Who created these laws?
A plenary meeting of the Podunk Tea Party, of course. Godalmighty, can't you give it a rest
for even a minute?